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Just What Is The Point Of A Probation Report

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nailit | 14:14 Mon 20th Mar 2017 | Law
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My sons mate has just received a 15 month prison sentence.

Bit of background....a fight broke out between my sons mate (and his brother) against 15 Asians. Police turned up (wearing bodycams that were turned off...) Arrested him and his brother and not one of the Asians. Obviously not wanting to cause racial unrest despite his brother receiving injuries from them.

In court this morning they both received 15 months each. My sons mate had an excellent probation report recommending a probation order. He has a few minor convictions from some years ago but nothing serious. He has some mental health problems as well. His barrister told him that with his probation report along with the numerous character references the chances of a custodial were slim.

Seriously, just what is the point of a probation report if the courts are going to ignore it?

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Obviously it's to deter others from any ideas. Like you said, they don't want racial unrest. Our little country is like a tinder box! However, certainly not fair to your son's friend. It makes a mockery out of probation reports.
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Patsy, even more ironic (ive just found out) his brother was given an Asian barrister. Didn't stand a chance anyway. What a joke.
The point of a probation report is to help the court determine a suitable sentence. It is not to prescribe such a sentence to the court. It outlines the likely pros and cons of each of the options the court may be considering but the ultimate decision is for the judge (in the case you mention) or the magistrates.

When ordering the report the probation service is told what options the judge is considering. If custody was not a consideration that would have been announced in open court when the report was being ordered. In the Crown Court (which deals with offences too serious for magistrates’ sentencing powers of six months custody) it would be fairly usual for “all options” to be considered. So the report will outline the pros and cons of various community based sentences as well as custody. It is not well publicised but the probation service has a covert policy persuading courts to divert people away from prison if at all possible and this, of course, influences their reports.

To receive 15 months your son’s mate must have been charged with at least ABH and more probably GBH.
Question Author
NJ he was charged with affray
Maximum of three years then.

To attract such a sentence the offence must have been in the top category of seriousness. The sentencing guidelines give, as an example of such an offence, "Fight involving a weapon/throwing objects, or conduct causing risk of serious injury."

I assume the magistrates declined jurisdiction when the matter was first heard in the lower court (either that or you son's mate opted for Crown Court trial himself). With an offence that resulted in 15 months custody it seems the Crown Court was the proper place either way.
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NJ I appreciate your getting back to me, thank you.
The 'weapon' involved was a chair leg (which he had actually managed to get from one of the others who were attacking THEM) and of which he surrendered to the police when they arrived. It wasn't used on anyone. Magistrates declined jurisdiction and he pleaded guilty at Crown.
Given the circumstances (that he and his brother were basically defending themselves against a gang of 15 and only they get arrested), the fact that he has no serious previous convictions and that Probation were willing to work with him, 15 months seems over the top.
Sorry to hear your bad news Nalit. 15 months does sound like it is near the top of what was possible. I assume the 15 months is after the 1/3 reduction for a guilty plea? Without knowing the full story we can't comment on why only two people were arrested.
When I first saw this post I thought you were going to tell us your son had gone down as well as his mate!
Question Author
Not really MY bad news EDDIE but I was/am quiet fond of my sons mate, one of his better ones.
// Without knowing the full story we can't comment on why only two people were arrested//
Appriciate that but where they were arrested was mainly a muslim area, don't want to cause any fuss by arresting the locals as well!

Its incidents like these that turn people racist if you ask me.
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Was there no other witnesses? Seems a bit strange that if they were so innocent that they were arrested and 'sent down'!
Your last comment about turning racist is untrue in my opinion!
I know it was not your bad news Nalit but we have heard of the problems your lad has and this will not help, as I am sure you know.
I assume they did not feel able to fight it in court by going not guilty pleading self defence and opting for a trial? The police not turning on the body cams seems suspect to me.
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Question Author
DB, he was advised to. Thought that the others would have been arrested as well at some point. At my court case a few years ago I too kept getting the advise to plead guilty even though I wasn't...

//Was there no other witnesses?// just the Asians that were attacking them and the police with bodycams that were switched off.

//I assume they did not feel able to fight it in court by going not guilty pleading self defence and opting for a trial//
He wished he had done after pleading guilty at the first opportunity and then realising that it was only him and his brother been charged.
This is the kind of advice legal aid gets you.
Question Author
Just as an aside, my sons up his flat now (which will have to be given up) feeding his dogs. Does anyone know what is supposed to happen to pets that are left when someone goes to jail?
^^ If he had told the court he had a dog left alone at home I assume the police would have either collected the dog or got the RSPCA to go and collect it. I admit I have not thought of that problem before but it must happen quite often.
Too late now, but was there no CCTV around?
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//Too late now, but was there no CCTV around? //
I couldn't say EDDIE, don't think so, it happened in a street of terraced housing so certainly no business cctv.

//If he had told the court he had a dog left alone at home I assume the police would have either collected the dog or got the RSPCA to go and collect it//
My son is staying overnight at his address and am in touch with him via facebook (my son doesn't have a phone) and he tells me that his mate wasn't expecting a custodial so hasn't made any preperations re his dogs. He was also under the impression that he could have kept his flat on while inside (if the worst come to the worst....which it has) and that my son could have looked after his 3 pooches but obviously the council will now want the flat back.
He would be gutted if he lost his dogs as well as his liberty and flat. Was wondering if the RSPCA had any kind of short term foster care for animals (I used to work for the RSPCA and ashamed that I don't know myself)

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